Forte Confirmed for G2 Jim Dandy, Tapit Trice Targeting G1 Haskell

July 13, 2023

Forte (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

G1 Fourstardave the Goal for Annapolis, Likely for Emmanuel

Gambling Girl Headed to G1 CCA Oaks

Dreamlike Aims To Break Maiden Friday

Kingsbarns Turned Out, Eyeing Fall Return

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has confirmed Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s 2022 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte for the nine-furlong Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy on July 29 at Saratoga Race Course.

The dark bay Violence colt was a late-closing second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 10 at Belmont Park, where he was seven wide in upper stretch and rallied to grab runner-up honors from stablemate Tapit Trice – who is targeting the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park.

Forte won Gulfstream’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 4 and Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 1. He entered the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs as the morning-line favorite, but was scratched the morning of the race with a bruised foot. His Championship-earning season saw Forte capture three Grade 1 races in the Hopeful at Saratoga as well as the two-turn Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Forte will use the Jim Dandy as a prep for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 at Saratoga. Pletcher noted past success in using the Jim Dandy as a springboard to the Travers, having swept both races with Flower Alley [2005] and Stay Thirsty [2011].

“It was a tough call,” said Pletcher. “We just felt like shipping up here, getting him used to the track, two Travers winners we previously had have done that.”

Pletcher added that Forte will likely breeze on Friday morning over the Saratoga main track following the renovation break.

Annapolis victorious in the Opening Verse (L) May 4 at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

On Saturday, Pletcher will saddle Bass Stables’ Kentucky homebred Annapolis in the Grade 3, $175,000 Kelso going one mile over the inner turf. The son of War Front last raced when making his 4-year-old debut with a victory in the Opening Verse on May 4 at Churchill Downs, where he defeated next out graded stakes winners Set Piece and Stitched.

“It was a good comeback. The horses that ran in that race have come back and run well,” Pletcher said.

Annapolis was initially targeting the Grade 3 Poker in June at Belmont, which was won by stablemate Emmanuel, but was withdrawn due to a frog injury on his right front.

“He’s been training very forwardly for this,” Pletcher said. “He didn’t really miss too much time because we were able to put a pad on it to protect it and continue training. I just didn’t feel comfortable running him with a pad.”

Annapolis made his career debut in September 2021 at Saratoga with a 4 1/2-length triumph going 1 1/16-miles on the inner turf. He raced at the Spa twice last season when second in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational and first in the Grade 3 Saranac before a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland.

Although there is a high chance of precipitation in the Saratoga region, Pletcher said he is confident the turf can maintain favorable condition for Saturday’s race.

“He broke his maiden here and he’s run well here. He runs well pretty much every time he runs,” Pletcher said. “We prefer firm-ish ground, but the course looks like it’s in good condition to start the meet. Hopefully, even if we get that storm tonight, it won’t affect things too much.”

Annapolis is out of the graded stakes winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, who Pletcher saddled to a runner-up finish in the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. 

“He’s a very cool horse to train and he’s got a good disposition. He’s willing but also relaxed. She [My Miss Sophia] was pretty professional as well,” Pletcher said. “He’s gotten a bit bigger and stronger, but he’s always been a good-sized War Front. He’s bigger than most War Fronts, I suppose he gets some of that size from the Unbridled’s Song part of his pedigree. He trained well for his 2-year-old debut and has always done the same.”

Pletcher said Annapolis’ ultimate goal is the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 12 here which also will be a likely landing spot for WinStar Farm and CHC Inc.’s Emmanuel.

Gambling Girl (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

Repole Stable’s New York-bred Gambling Girl is on target for the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 22. The Dialed In bay has not raced since a late closing second to Pretty Mischievous in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5 at Churchill Downs and has remained at the Louisville oval to train towards her next race. Her last victory took place in September in the Joseph A. Gimma at Belmont at the Big A.

“I thought she ran huge,” Pletcher said. “When we got to Churchill, I thought she had trained the best she had ever trained. For whatever reason, she really seemed to like that surface. She ran a huge race and we decided that we would freshen her up a touch and try to keep her at a mile and an eighth. That’s why we skipped the Acorn and pointed for this. Hopefully, she performs well there.”

Bred in the Empire State by Gallagher’s Stud, Gambling Girl is out of the Empire Maker mare Tulipmania.

Pletcher will saddle Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Dreamlike in a Friday maiden special weight going nine furlongs on the main track. The highly-regarded Gun Runner colt has not raced since a close third in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 8 at Aqueduct. He was previously second in two Gulfstream Park maiden tests.

“He ran big in the Wood. He’s a horse that’s always trained well. Hopefully, he’s able to put it all together,” Pletcher said. “We’ll have to see how he does. I’d love to have some success in the maiden race, an allowance race and maybe something like the Pennsylvania Derby if everything were to fall into place.”

Pletcher said Spendthrift Farm’s Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Kingsbarns has been turned out with an eye on a fall return. The son of Uncle Mo finished second in Monmouth’s Pegasus after finishing 14th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

“We stopped on him,” Pletcher said. “We sent him to Spendthrift the day before yesterday. He just lost a little bit of weight and we felt like he had been going pretty steadily. We just wanted to give him some time off and turn him out and get him back in training in the fall.”

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